Results from APPE Mini-Conference: Engineering towards a More Just and Sustainable World


This special mini-conference took place at the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics on March 6-7, 2010. It grew out of the workshop on Engineering, Social Justice, and Sustainable Community Development held at the National Academies in 2008. See notes, remarks, and power point presentations below.


Cincinnati, Ohio

March 6 – 7, 2010

Opening Session: Technology and Global Justice


How do we educate tomorrow's engineer and some of today's engineers to think about global justice in the context of their profession and work? Educating engineers to think about global justice in a global technological system requires thinking beyond technology as an answer to human needs, to technology in contexts where justice is a pressing need. Metrics of success need to include long-term social welfare and human dignity, not just those of efficiency and cost. These are the questions for a new technological imperative, and engineers trying to span this educational bridge need to articulate thoughts about global justice in a language and framework that the engineering world will appreciate, as eloquently as the philosopher Thomas Pogge has done with his work examining the metrics for poverty and gender inequality.

Moderator:  Rachelle D. Hollander, Director, Center for Engineering Ethics and Society, National Academy of Engineering. [Opening Remarks]

  • Keynote: “Technology and Global Justice,” Indira Nair, Vice-Provost for Education, Professor, Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie-Mellon University. [PPT], [Video]
  • Discussant: Greg Allgood, Director, Children’s Safe Drinking Water, Procter & Gamble and Senior Fellow in Sustainability. [PPT], [Video]
  • Discussant: David Crocker, Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Maryland-College Park. [Video]
  • Question and Answer with audience [Video]

Panel One: Engineering and Social Justice: What Are the Difficulties? What Are the Possibilities?

Moderator: Kevin Passino, Electrical Engineering, Ohio State University

  • Speaker: Donna Riley, Engineering, Smith College. [PPT], [Video]
  • Speaker: Sheila Jasanoff, JFK School, Harvard University. [PPT], [Video]
  • Discussant: Michael Davis, Illinois Institute of Technology, Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions. [Text], [Video]
  • Discussant: Hank Hatch, Head, US Army Corps of Engineers, Retired, NAE Member. [Text], [Video]
  • Question and Answer session with audience [Video]

Panel Two: Engineering Sustainability and Environmental Justice: What Are the Difficulties? What Are the Possibilities?

Moderator: Nancy Obermeyer, Geography, Indiana State University.

  • Speaker: John Ehrenfeld, Planning, MIT, emeritus. [PPT]
  • Speaker: Robert M. Figueroa, Philosophy, University of North Texas-Denton.
  • Discussant: Diane Michelfelder, Philosophy, Macalester College, and Sharon Jones, Engineering, Lafayette College. [Text]
  • Discussant: Gwen Ottinger, Center for Contemporary History and Policy, Chemical Heritage Foundation. [Text]

Panel Three: Organizational Perspectives

What assistance can and do organizations provide to engineers who wish to contribute to a more socially and environmentally just and sustainable world? This panel approaches the question from the points of view of engineers in organizations undertaking programs or developing resources that can or do address it.

Moderator: Joseph Herkert, Technology and Ethics, Arizona State University

  • Linda Abriola, Dean, Tufts School of Engineering, NAE Member, “The Academy.” [PPT]
  • Valerie Henderson Summet, Mirzayan Fellow, NAE, and Alice Agogino, Mechanical Engineering, U California-Berkeley, NAE Member, “Electronic Resources in Engineering Education.” [PPT]
  • Chris Schairbaum, Director of Energy Technology Strategy, Texas Instruments “Encouraging Engineering for Goals of Social and Environmental Justice.” [PPT]
  • William Kelly, Public Affairs, American Society of Engineering Education, “Professional Societies.” [PPT]
Anonymous. . Results from APPE Mini-Conference: Engineering towards a More Just and Sustainable World. Online Ethics Center. DOI:.